Michelle Marquez, Eller's Outstanding Senior for Business Administration, volunteered, joined clubs and more — all while earning her degree.
The Eller College of Management stands tall in the Tucson morning sun, all sharp angles and shining pillars. Graduating senior Michelle Marquez ascends the front steps with easy familiarity, waving to her fellow students and greeting advisors. The twist? Marquez earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Arizona entirely online.
Eller provides a rigorous, nationally recognized business education, and the online cohorts live up to those expectations. When asked why she decided to take the online version of an already accelerated coursework, Marquez explains that it was a tough choice.
“I wanted to major in business administration, but I didn’t realize you only have two options: the online or the evening,” she says. “With the online cohort, you could be admitted in the spring, fall, whenever. It’s year-round … so I went with the online option.”
This choice allowed her the flexibility of an online education, but she soon discovered that this relatively new and different educational style comes with its own set of challenges.
“I enjoy doing the work online,” Marquez says. “But the accelerated pace … that was something you have to overcome during the first few classes. To get into a rhythm and figure out what’s best for you. I decided that I would do my coursework at night … that way I could have the rest of the day to do volunteer work.”
In addition to volunteering daily at Amphitheater Middle School and Tu Nidito Children and Family Services, Marquez joined two UA clubs, one of which was Eller Transfer Ambassadors. As an ambassador for the UA, she has attended orientations, delivered presentations to new students, and performed in-classroom visits to meet prospective transfers. In short, she provided all the information and face-to-face interaction incoming students might need.
“Just wanting to be there, wanting to be in a club, wanting to serve others … I motivated myself,” she says. “I’ve always served. It’s just something that I do.”
Now she’s graduating as one of Eller’s Outstanding Seniors, an honor awarded to seven remarkable students who gave back to the college, whether by volunteering, participating in events or achieving academic success. Because Marquez accomplished all that and more, Eller selected her as the overall Outstanding Senior for the Business Administration major both on campus and online – an achievement that is hers and hers alone.
“It’s definitely a big resume booster,” she says, laughing. “And it’s an honor to represent your major in this way.”
Next, Marquez wants to pursue a career in education, but she’s looking to earn a master’s in educational leadership first. The UA has already welcomed her back, and she starts this fall — on campus, this time. But she says more and more people are taking advantage of the benefits of going online.
“I was so looking forward to having that traditional college experience,” she said. “But I quickly found out that ‘college experience’ is a very subjective term, and you make what you want out of it. I think people are realizing they have the opportunity to do internships, to volunteer, to work … to do everything you need to do that your future job might require. And I think that’s a huge benefit.”